Tim and I decided to try a Uygur restaurant tonight in Istanbul. I have never had Uygur food before and I had no idea what to expect. Tim traveled to Xinjiang province in China so he was familiar with it. I let him have free reign over the order.
The restaurant is called Yüksel Uygur Restaurant and it’s located in Aksaray, just across from the Yusufpaşa tram stop. We were greeted with a friendly smile from the waiter and took our seats. A large pot of tea was brought to our table immediately.
Tim placed our order, and shortly after we were brought a small meat-filled pastry called samsa. It was very tasty, and I could describe it as similar to an empanada.
Our next dish was Uygur pilav, which is rice with small chunks of meat and shredded carrots. Tim suggested adding the complementary salad (tomatoes and cucumbers) to the pilav as he did in Xinjiang province, and it turned out to be a great suggestion.
The next dish to come was a noodle dish called lağman. They were thick noodles with sauteed vegetables and thin strips of meat, mixed in a perfectly spiced sauce. It was my favorite dish of the night.
Finally, we had Uygur mantı. While Turkish mantı is very small and smothered in yogurt sauce and spices, the Uygur variety was big enough to fit in the palm of my hand and filled with lots of meat. It was kind of an anticlimactic finish to the meal. While it tasted good, it was squirting juices as I cut into it and there were a few unexpected bones. I’d skip it and try something else.
The meal was an enjoyable experience and a great introduction to Uygur food. For the two of us, it was also very affordable for the quality and amount of food we got – just 36TL total!